9/11 once united America. We cried together. We prayed together. We cornered bigots together. In that spirit of unity, the approval rating of Muslims actually went up after 9/11.
However, that unity was somehow lost. America today is highly divided. Hate, fear and anger are rising. President Obama receives 400% more death threats than President Bush ever did, hate groups are all time high, armed militias have doubled, and 25 million Americans have purchased arms in 2015 as compared to about 1 million eight years ago.
And the approval rating of Muslims is the lowest it’s ever been. Only 17% of our neighbors approve of Islam and Muslims. Neighbors turning against us hits us where it hurts most: our children are bullied and our income has gone down.
How did the unity transform into division? There are three factors that account for it:
1) Neo-cons: they were able to push President Bush into invading Iraq. The Iraq War’s dynamics continue to devastate lives of a whole region. Almost 5 countries have been essentially destroyed. War-terrorism together has killed about 4 million people and unleashed the largest refugee crisis in a century. Just yesterday, America bombed 5 countries, all Muslims. War-terrorism continues to dehumanize Muslims in the West and demonizes the West in the Muslim world.
2) Islamophobia industry: A 200 million dollar, 34 organization strong hate machine has been successful in telling America with the masterful manipulation of media that it is not just the extremists and the terrorists but Islam itself that is the problem.
3) Muslims, largely remain reluctant neighbors and disengaged citizens: Islamophobia is not a product of our neighbors not knowing the 5 pillars of Islam. We have distributed more copies of the Qu’ran in the last 15 years than we have probably printed in the last 100 years in America. Islamophobia is the product of our political weakness, absence of coalitions, and disengagement as citizens. 90% of the donations of this generous Muslim community goes to mosques and disaster relief. As a result we are successful in those two areas.
Muslims must become welcoming neighbors and excellent citizens to liberate America from hate, fear and anger which is drowning it.
Only through engagement we will empower ourselves and with God’s blessing will be able to stop the war-terror-Islamophobia nexus.